ANIMAL TALK: Breaking the Codes of Animal Language

Tim Friend, Author . Free Press $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7432-0157-5

Friend, a longtime USA Today science writer, has written a delightful, entertaining and instructive book for the general public on animal communication. All kinds of animal lovers will enjoy his presentation of "the bigger picture" of animal talk in the wild—"how animals communicate with each other and what they spend so much time chattering to each other about." Friend provides readers with clear explanations of complex issues such as how the colorful and noisy signals of communication in the animal kingdom arose in the first place and to what extent animal systems of communication are similar to human language. Along the way, he impressively explores a wide range of related topics, such as how Descartes and Darwin influenced the study of animal sounds, the mating purpose of animal songs and the roots of whale communication research in Cold War technology. Friend is an engaging writer; throughout he displays a deft ability to capture the world of animal sound with just the right phrase, such as his description of tree frogs and insects in the Amazon rainforest "laying down a soulful energetic chorus like a choir at an old-fashioned, Southern tent revival," and his wry observation of rival male albatrosses attracting potential female mates by "clapping their beaks and moving their heads like Mick Jagger." (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/20/2003
Release date: 12/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-7432-0158-2
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